Black Friday was developed to usher in that next important time of the year: Eggnog Season. In any given year, I may possibly have just one single glass during those five weeks until Christmas. But that glass feels official… ceremonial. Eggnog is so good, so indulgent. I often want another, though some puritanical element in me often abstains. Well, maybe one more.
All proper eggnogs are rich with dairy and eggs and seasoned with nutmeg. This recipe stays true to that base. There are also several common permutations in nog making. Frequently and traditionally, we see whipped egg whites folded in for a full, creamy texture. I opt away from the raw egg here. Try enjoying nog warm, which is a great variation. Rum, whiskey or brandy can be added for some convivial holiday spirit. In a deviation from tradition, I scent my eggnog with a touch of orange; it evokes a wintertime Dreamsicle.
I cook my eggnog as I do a Crème Anglaise: heat the dairy, temper and delicately cook the eggs in the dairy and chill. By tempering I mean gently raising the temperature of the eggs and preventing them from boiling so that they don’t curdle. There are some tasks at the stove that you can leave and check in on occasionally. This is not one of them. Once the eggs are receiving heat you must continually move them, scraping the bottom of the pan with your rubber spatula so that no bit of egg catches too much heat. This may take just a couple of minutes.
Scroll down for a printable recipe
Yields: 6 cups, about 8 servings
3 cups whole milk
3 whole cloves
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 cinnamon stick, crushed
1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon orange extract, or one quarter of an orange’s zest
Pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
1 whole eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1. Put the milk, cloves, vanilla, cinnamon, honey, orange and salt into a 4-quart pot.
2. Bring to a boil, then shut off and allow to steep 10-20 minutes.
3. Whisk yolks, eggs and sugar together in a separate bowl.
4. Heat the milk mixture back to a simmer and temper the eggs by whisking half the hot milk into them a cup at a time, then dump the egg mixture into the pot and mix it well. Heat gently, mixing from the bottom with a rubber spatula until you observe a slight thickening (about 170 deg F). Shut the heat off and quickly add the cream to arrest the cooking.
5. Pass through a fine strainer to catch the spices, and chill.
Serve the eggnog chilled or heated (the microwave works great for this). A genteel portion is about 5 ounces. Feel no guilt if you choose to double that. Add your booze with a quick stir and grate a generous layer of fresh nutmeg on top. This is another perfect use for your Microplane grater.
This recipe can/should be multiplied easily for a group. I would strongly recommend doubling it regardless, as you’ll be through this batch in no time. I alternate between rum and whiskey to spike but prefer whiskey as a better foil to the sweetness. Either of the Plantation Rums available at The Chopping Block would be exceptional additions, as would the Journeyman Rye from Michigan.
Bonus! Here’s a pro tip from my wife: when measuring honey or other similar thick substances, hit your vessel with a quick shot of cooking spray. The honey will slide right out of the cup with no effort.
If you want to learn more about bourbon and rye, don't miss our upcoming virtual cocktail class with Spirits Expert Christophe Bakunas on Saturday, December 18 at 6pm CST. In this class, you'll learn the difference between the two as we take a historical tour of the brown spirits developed in America. We'll shake and stir three cocktails enjoying charred, barrel aged spirits. This is one cocktail class that will get you set for the holidays!